János Kádár

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János Kádár, né Giovanni Csermanek (his Italian first name was due to the laws of Fiume, his father denied paternity and refused to support his mother Borbála<ref name="th">Kádár's Shadow Tibor Hajdu, The Hungarian Quarterly, VOLUME XLII, No. 164, Winter 2001</ref>) (May 26, 1912July 6, 1989), was the communist leader of Hungary from 1956 to 1988, and twice served as Prime Minister of Hungary, from 1956 to 1958 and again from 1961 to 1965.


[edit] Early life

Born in Fiume (now Rijeka, Croatia), in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kádár spent his first six years with foster parents until reunited with his mother who sent him to school until 14 years. He apprenticed as a typewriter mechanic, joined the trade union's youth group at 17, and joined the illegal Hungarian Communist Party in 1931, and was subsequently arrested several times for unlawful political activities: he was sentenced to two years imprisonment in 1933.<ref name="th"/><ref name="rev">János Kádár rev.hu, The Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution</ref>

During World War II, Kádár fought with the Czechoslovakian resistance.

In 1946, he was elected Deputy Secretary-General of the Hungarian Communist Party. In 1949, he succeeded Lászlò Rajk as Minister of the Interior. Rajk was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs by the Communist Party leader and Prime Minister Mátyás Rákosi when he had already been chosen as the chief defendant of the "show trial," staged by Rákosi in Hungary by the analogy of the show trials, initiated by Stalin in the Soviet Union. Rajk and "his band" were accused of conspiring with Marshal Tito, President of Yugoslavia and were executed. In a Machiavellian scheme, Kádár was appointed Minister of the Interior to involve his person in the show trial, although the Hungarian State Security Agency (ÁVH), which was in charge of the the investigation, received orders directly from Rákosi. One year later, Kádár himself felt victim to a show trial on false charges and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released in 1954, after the appointment of Imre Nagy as Prime Minister in 1953, following the death of Stalin.

Kádár accepted the offer to act as party secretary in a heavily industrialised district of Budapest. He rose to prominence quickly, building up a large following amongst workers who demanded increased freedom for trade unions.

[edit] Role in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956

Nagy began a process of liberalisation, removing state controls over the press, releasing many political prisoners, and expressing wishes to withdraw Hungary from the Warsaw Pact. He formed a coalition government. Although the Soviet leaders issued a statement that they strived to establish a new relationship with Hungary on the basis of mutual respect and equality, in the first days of November, the Presidium of the Soviet Communist Party took a decision to crush the revolution by force.

In the meantime, the Hungarian Communist Party decided to dissolve itself and to reorganize the party under the name of Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party. Kádár was elected Secretary-General. He was also a member of the Imre Nagy Government as Minister of State. On the 1st of November, Kádár was abducted by the Soviet Embassy in Budapest and taken to Moscow where the Soviet leaders tried to convince him that a "counter-revolution" was unfolding in Hungary that must be put to an end at any cost. He first resisted the pressure and argued that the Nagy government did not wish to abolish the Socialist system. He yielded to the pressure only when the Soviet leaders informed him that the decision had already been taken to crush the revolution with the help of the Soviet troops stationed in Hungary and that the old Communist leadership would be sent back to Hungary, were he not willing to assume the post of Prime Minister in the new government. The Soviet tanks moved into Budapest to crush the revolution at dawn November 4. The proclamation of the so-called Provisional Revolutionary Government of Workers and Peasants, headed by Kádár, was broadcast from Szolnok the same day.

He announced a "Fifteen Point Programme" for this new government:

  1. To secure Hungary's national independence and sovereignty
  2. To protect the people's democratic and socialist system from all attacks
  3. To end fratricidal fighting and to restore order
  4. To establish close fraternal relations with other socialist countries on the basis of complete equality and non-interference
  5. To cooperate peacefully with all nations irrespective of form of government
  6. To quickly and substantially raise the standard of living for all in Hungary
  7. Modification of the Five Year Plan, to allow for this increase in the standard of living
  8. Elimination of bureaucracy and the broadening of democracy, in the workers' interest
  9. On the basis of the broadened democracy, management by the workers must be implemented in factories and enterprises
  10. To develop agricultural production, abolish compulsory deliveries and grant assistance to individual farmers
  11. To guarantee democratic elections in the already existing administrative bodies and Revolutionary Councils
  12. Support for artisans and retail trade
  13. Development of Hungarian culture in the spirit of Hungary's progressive traditions
  14. The Hungarian Revolutionary Worker-Peasant Government, acting in the interest of our people, requested the Red Army to help our nation smash the sinister forces of reaction and restore order and calm in Hungary
  15. To negotiate with the forces of the Warsaw Pact on the withdrawal of troops from Hungary following the end of the crisis

Kádár also added that "anyone not against us is with us", and that "ordinary people could go about their business without fear of molestation or even much surveillance and could speak, read, and even write with reasonable freedom". This is in notable contrast to the reign of Stalinist dictator Rákosi, who treated anyone who was not a follower as an enemy.

The 15th point was withdrawn after pressure from the Warsaw Pact that a 200,000 strong Soviet detachment be garrisoned in Hungary. This development allowed Kádár to divert huge defence funds to welfare.

Nagy, along with Georg Lukács, Géza Losonczy and László Rajk's widow, Julia, fled to the Yugoslavian Embassy. Kádár promised them safe return home at their request but failed to keep this promise as the Soviet party leaders decided that Imre Nagy and the other members of the government who had sought asylum at the Yugoslav Embassy should be deported to Rumania. Later on, a trial began to establish the responsibility of the Imre Nagy Government in the 1956 events. Although it was adjurned several times, the defendants were eventually convicted of treason and attempting to overthrow the "democratic state order". Imre Nagy, Pál Maléter and Miklós Gimes were sentenced to death and executed for these crimes on June 16, 1958. Geza Losonczy and Attila Szigethy both died in prison under suspicious circumstances during the court proceedings.

[edit] The Kádár era

Though influenced strongly by the Soviet Union, Kádár sometimes enacted policy slightly contrary to that of the Soviet Union, for example, allowing considerably large private plots for farmers of collective farms. Yet, Hungary was unable to back out of self-damaging events like the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia or the 1973 economic reversal which aligned Hungary with Leonid Brezhnev's stagnating USSR.

As a result of the relatively high standard of living, and more relaxed travel restrictions than that of other Eastern Bloc countries, Hungary was one of the best places ("the happiest barrack") to live in Eastern Europe during the Cold War (See also Goulash Communism for a discussion of the Hungarian variety of socialism.) Many Hungarians are nostalgic about the Kádár era, due to the dramatic fall in living standards caused by the adjustments to a capitalist economy in the 1990s. So do Gyula Horn a former communist politician elected Prime Minister in 1994.

During Kádár's rule, tourism increased dramatically, with many tourists from Canada, the USA, and Western Europe bringing much needed money into Hungary. Hungary built strong relations with developing countries and many foreign students arrived. The "Holy Crown" (referred to in the media as the "Hungarian Crown", so as to prevent it carrying a political symbolism of the Horthy regime) and regalia of Hungarian kings was returned to Budapest by the United States in 1978.

Kádár was known for his simple and modest lifestyle and had a strong aversion against corruption or ill-doing.[citation needed] He was a convinced Communist who retained his faith throughout his life.

János Kádár was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize (1975-76).

[edit] Deposition and death

János Kádár held power in Hungary until 1988, when he resigned as General Secretary mainly due to mounting economic difficulties and his own ill-health. At a party conference in May 1988, he was replaced as General Secretary by Prime Minister Károly Grósz who strove to continue Kádár's policies in a modified and adjusted form adapted to the new circumstances. Kádár was named instead to the rather ceremonial position of Party President. In early 1989, as Grósz and his associates in turn were being sidelined by a faction of "radical reformers" who set out to dismantle the socialist system, Kádár, now visibly senile, was removed completely from political office, dying not long afterwards.

Kádár was generally known as one of the more moderate East European Communist leaders, although he nevertheless supported the Warsaw Pact suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968, and the Hungarian secret police nonetheless kept many Hungarians living in a state of fear, and arrested more than 10,000 people.

A barbed wire fence at the Austrian border built in 1968 also restricted emigration.

[edit] References


Preceded by:
Ernő Gerő
General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party
Succeeded by:
Károly Grósz
Preceded by:
Imre Nagy
Prime Minister of Hungary
Succeeded by:
Ferenc Münnich
Preceded by:
Ferenc Münnich
Prime Minister of Hungary
Succeeded by:
Gyula Kállai
bg:Янош Кадар

de:János Kádár eo:János Kádár fa:یانوش کادار fr:János Kádár io:János Kádár it:János Kádár he:יאנוש קאדאר hu:Kádár János nl:János Kádár no:János Kádár nn:János Kádár pl:János Kádár ro:János Kádár ru:Кадар, Янош fi:János Kádár sv:János Kádár uk:Кадар Янош

János Kádár

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